MAKE THE CHOICE: Repairing Relationships
“Today is a new day. Starting today, you can refocus your life on doing God’s will in your relationships” (Baker, 180)
I think we would all agree with John Baker’s assessment that broken relationships are the root of much of the pain we experience. The action steps this week allow us to move towards forgiving those who hurt us, and making amends with those we’ve hurt. Let’s explore how we can live unashamed, forgetting our troubles, full of hope and blessed (Job 11:13-10)
Throughout this study, we’ve taken a lot of time to write about our experiences, our actions, and our pain. I believe that writing gives us the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts that run through our minds, but by using both the thinking & writing tasks, it becomes more real to us. We take an active approach to the thoughts. We see it in black & white (or purple & white if you were to see my journal), and it’s no longer something hidden in the back corners of our lives.
Start out this week’s exercise by writing down a list of people who have harmed you in some way, and their relationship to you. Now, I’m not talking about the guy who cut you off on the road. It’s not the petty little stuff we’re dealing with here. Go back to your inventory lists from Chapter 4 if necessary. We are creating our Forgiveness List.
Once you have the list of people, or maybe just one person, describe what they said or did to hurt you. How did it make you feel? Dig deep and find the descriptive words for your feelings, don’t just say “angry” or “hurt”. Do you struggle with finding words to describe how you feel? You’re not alone! I know in counseling sessions, we were given charts & lists to help us as a family learn to communicate our feelings more clearly with one another. I found these links that might be helpful if you struggle in expressing words for your emotions:
http://www.ami-tx.com/Portals/3/EmotionsFlyer.pdf (this is great picture chart for children!)
Now, let’s move to the Amends List. Write down names of those you’ve hurt or offended, and their relationship to you. As we did with the previous list, write down what you said or did to this person. How do you think this person felt? Why are you sorry for hurting this person? Do you stop to think about how your words or actions affect another person? So often we can point out every little offense of other people, but we dismiss what we did as nothing.
Baker gives a list of questions (p. 184) to help jump start your thinking if you’re struggling to think of those you have hurt:
- Is there anyone to whom you owe a debt that you haven’t repaid?
- Is there anyone you’ve broken a promise to?
- Is there anyone you are guilty of controlling or manipulating?
- Is there anyone you are overly possessive of?
- Is there anyone you are hypercritical of?
- Have you been verbally, emotionally or physically abusive to anyone?
- Is there anyone you have not appreciated or paid attention to?
- Is there anyone you have been unfaithful to?
- Have you ever lied to anyone?
Our accountability partners will be crucial in this process. We do not want to run to someone who hurt us and put ourselves in a vulnerable position where we can be hurt again. In some instances, we will not actually face (or contact) the person we are forgiving because the risk of further harm is too great. Your accountability partner is there to talk with you, serve as a sounding board, and help guide your steps. Share your Forgiveness List with this person BEFORE you go to the one you are forgiving.
Also share your Amends List with your accountability partner, and work together to develop a plan to make amends with the people you have listed. It’s not about running out to accomplish all that we can as fast as we can. There will be an appropriate time, location, and way to manage this step. Your partner knows you and will help guide you to the best way to accomplish your task.
I shared with you on Sunday my lesson in forgiving others. This was an action I needed to do, not just because God expects this of me, but because my life & health depended upon it. Harboring the resentment and anger would have caused more harm in my life … my ability to love and trust others, my ability to demonstrate His love to my daughter, and my ability to draw close to Him. But outside of the day I spoke to the court, I did not face my ex-husband to have a personal conversation with him. It would have been inappropriate to do so. I do have fleeting moments today where I think I should write him a letter, but going through this study has shown that it would bring harm to him. I said what needed to be said years ago. To make contact now would only stir up the issues and the emotions. Deep down, the flesh side of me wants to show him how well we’ve done in the years since. But that’s not what God wants. Forgiveness has been given. It was spoken, it was done.
At this time, I can think of one other for whom I need to forgive, and as much as I’ve said over the years that I have forgiven him, this study has made me see that perhaps I really haven’t. If I have forgiven this person for his actions years ago, would it still bother me that I only hear from him on birthdays and Christmas? If I have forgiven him, would it bother me that I don’t often receive replies to emails? If I have forgiven him, would it annoy me that he doesn’t seem to interact with family in ways I feel would be more appropriate? If I have fully forgiven him, would I actually have this list of things that bother me so? Or am I just holding on too tightly to the emotions the memories evoke? Either way, I haven’t fully given the issue to God, and I believe this is the area I need to really explore more deeply.
Power Verses for Chapter 6:
1 Peter 5:10
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Taken from the Celebrate Recovery Participant’s Guide 3, I want to share with you the following prayer to closer out this week’s activity:
Dear God, thank You for Your love, for Your freely given grace. Help me model Your ways when I make my amends to those I have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who have injured me. Help me to set aside my selfishness and speak the truth in love. I pray that I would focus only on my part, my responsibility in the issue. I know that I can forgive others because You first forgave me. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com